Would you like to learn to play the notes of the famous French folk song Are You Sleeping, Brother John on the piano? You’ve come to the right place.
Are You Sleeping, Brother John (Frère Jacques in its original title) is a nursery rhyme dating from the 16th century and composed by musician Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Known the world over, it has since been translated into many languages and sung by people from all walks of life.
It is particularly popular with young children, thanks to its catchy, easy-to-remember melody. It’s also very easy to play on the piano, making it a prime target for young pianists just starting out. Children can easily learn it as the first song in their piano repertoire.
That’s why we wanted to write this tutorial article. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to play the notes of Are You Sleeping, Brother John on the piano. We’ll start with the notes for the right hand, followed by those for the left. We’ve also included video tutorials to guide you through the process.
Finally, you’ll find an easy piano score by Are You Sleeping, Brother John to download as a free PDF.
By the end of this article, our aim is to have you playing this popular song on the piano. Let’s get started!
Bonus : you can also learn to play this song at your own pace on our interactive piano learning app La Touche Musicale.
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Before playing the notes of Are You Sleeping, Brother John, let’s first go over a few basics and situate ourselves on a piano keyboard.
The image below shows the location of each note on a keyboard:
The name of the notes on a piano keyboard.
If we look closely at the diagram above, we can see that a piano keyboard is divided into several parts, each consisting of 7 white keys, each associated with a note (C, D, E, F, G, A, B). Once we reach the 8th note, the sequence repeats itself identically. This is called an “octave”.
To help you find your way around the keyboard, you can use the black keys. Unlike the white keys, the black keys are not all identical. They work in groups of two or three. It’s these different groups that enable us to find our way around a piano.
For example, if you’re looking for the note C, you’ll first need to identify a group of two black keys. Once you’ve found it, look for the white key just to the left of the group: this is C.
Before starting this tutorial on Are You Sleeping, Brother John (Frère Jacques), we recommend that you practice quickly identifying the different notes on the piano keyboard. This will make it easier for you to play the notes of the famous song when we come to them.
Before playing all the notes in Frère Jacques’ right hand on the piano, we’ll first use what we’ve learned in the previous section to identify the first note in the series.
This is the note C. Place your finger on this note:
C is the first note of the right hand in the song Are You Sleeping, Brother John au piano.
Have you found the first C note? Perfect! Now let’s play all the following notes. Press the corresponding keys one after the other:
C – D – E – C – C – D – E – C – E – F – G – E – F – G – G – A – G – F – E – C – G – A – G – F – E – C – C – G – C – C – G – C.
This succession of notes corresponds to the entire Are You Sleeping, Brother John song, played in the right hand on the piano. You’ll recognize the melody of the famous tune quite quickly when you perform this sequence.
We advise you to play this sequence of notes over and over again, so that you become familiar with it and know it like the back of your hand. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the left hand.
Are You Sleeping, Brother John on the piano: the notes of the right hand.
We’ve created a tutorial video, taken from our piano learning app, which gives you the beats of each of the notes mentioned above, as well as the generic tempo of the piece. We invite you to watch it to perfect your right-hand learning [Note: you must keep the key pressed down as long as the note is on it]:
Now that you’ve learned to play the right hand, we can move on to the left hand of this famous nursery rhyme.
Play the notes ofAre You Sleeping, Brother John with the right hand on an interactive app
La Touche Musicale app waits for you to play the right note with your right hand on your piano before moving on to the next one.
As we did for the right hand, here we’ll first identify the first note we need to play with the left hand for Frère Jacques.
The first note to press is C:
C is the first note of the left hand in the song Are You Sleeping, Brother John.
Once you’ve found your C, you can play the whole sequence of notes. Press each of the following notes one after the other:
C – E – C – E – E – G – E – G – G – E – G – E – C – G – C – C – G – C.
By pressing each of the above notes in succession, you’ll play Are You Sleeping, Brother John’s entire left hand on the piano.
Learn this series of notes by heart, so that you can play it smoothly. Don’t neglect it, because the left hand is the whole accompaniment to the song you’re playing. It’s what gives the song its depth.
Are You Sleeping, Brother John on the piano: the notes of the left hand.
Watch the following video tutorial to learn the location of each left-hand note on the piano keyboard. As with the right hand, you’ll also learn how to respect the beat of each note, as well as the Are You Sleeping, Brother John rhythm:
Play the notes of Are You Sleeping, Brother John with the left hand on an interactive app
The La Touche Musicale app waits for you to play the correct note with your left hand on your piano before moving on to the next.
At this stage of the tutorial, you should be able to play both hands separately. If not, we invite you to persevere a little longer. You’ll see that it should come quite easily.
Can you play both hands separately? Congratulations! But that’s not the end of the lesson. We now need to play both hands at the same time to reproduce Are You Sleeping, Brother John in its entirety.
Have you heard of hand dissociation? It’s a piano exercise that teaches you to play with both hands at the same time.
For a piano beginner, it’s very difficult to dissociate the hands. This is because our brains are not accustomed to performing gestures as precise as the synchronized placement of our fingers on a keyboard.
Fortunately, there are a number of techniques and tricks that enable us to train efficiently and master this indispensable exercise more quickly.
A number of teachers and music coaches have developed methods to help you dissociate your hands with greater ease.
You can start by playing the notes of the right hand first, then those of the left. This will enable you to gradually get used to the rhythm of each hand and the various sequences to be performed. This is the method we’ve chosen to adopt in this tutorial showing Are You Sleeping, Brother John notes to be played on the piano.
Once you’ve mastered both hands, you’ll need to play them at the same time. To do this, we advise you to cut your original song into several very short passages. For example, if your song is 2 minutes long, take the first 5 seconds. Play softly with both hands at the same time, then gradually increase the tempo until you reach the original tempo. When this step has been successfully completed, move on to the next 5 seconds and repeat the same exercise. Once you’ve mastered both sequences, play them in succession.
This technique is extremely effective. It allows your brain to assimilate information progressively, so you learn much more quickly.
Note: on the La Touche Musicale piano learning app, we’ve noticed the pedagogical performance of such a method. That’s why we’ve added a “loop” to the piano learning application, enabling you to choose any sequence in the piece and play it in a loop. So you can play it much faster.
Are You Sleeping, Brother John on the piano: the notes of both hands.
This video is certainly the most important of the three, as it shows the notes of both hands at the same time. You’ll be able to see the beats of each note and the overall rhythm of the song. But above all, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the timing of the left and right hand notes, and observe when they should be played.
To learn at your own pace, you can pause the video to give yourself time to position your fingers correctly on your own piano keyboard.
PS: on the La Touche Musicale app, you don’t need to pause the song. The app automatically waits for you until you play the right note.
Play the notes of Are You Sleeping, Brother John with both hands on an interactive app
The La Touche Musicale app waits for you to play the right notes with both hands on your piano before moving on to the next.
Congratulations! You can now play one of the most famous popular French songs on the piano! You can also learn other songs that will bring diversity to your musical repertoire by consulting our article on sad piano songs or the one on the best easy piano songs to play.
We’ve also written other tutorials similar to this one:
There are many sites offering the piano score of Frère Jacques. Be careful, however, not to choose any paying offers, as this is a royalty-free song that belongs in the public domain. In addition to this tutorial, we thought it would be interesting to offer you a free download of the Are You Sleeping, Brother John sheet music in PDF format, so that you can practice from anywhere.
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